This is one of my favorite books ever, in large part because Leif Enger's writing is so beautiful. I fell in love with the characters and something in...moreThis is one of my favorite books ever, in large part because Leif Enger's writing is so beautiful. I fell in love with the characters and something in the story really spoke to me. I highly recommend it.(less)
I'm a huge Charles de Lint fan. This was really as good as his other work, but I like Jilly so much that this was a little disappointing. He really pu...moreI'm a huge Charles de Lint fan. This was really as good as his other work, but I like Jilly so much that this was a little disappointing. He really puts her through the fire in this one.(less)
This was a follow-up to A Princess of Roumania. I liked it about as well as that book. They're not my favorite fantasy, and they move a little bit slo...moreThis was a follow-up to A Princess of Roumania. I liked it about as well as that book. They're not my favorite fantasy, and they move a little bit slowly for me, but they are definitely worth reading.(less)
Izzy Copley is a college student majoring in art when she first meets world-famous artist Vincent Rushkin. She feels unworthy when he chooses to start...moreIzzy Copley is a college student majoring in art when she first meets world-famous artist Vincent Rushkin. She feels unworthy when he chooses to start teaching her his secrets.
There's a reason that he's so secretive. He has a nasty temper and he frequently lashes out at Izzy, both verbally and physically. She's so in awe of him that she lets him get away with it. He finally teaches her the real secret to his work. Each painting is like a doorway to another world, allowing the subject of the painting to take physical shape in our world and stroll around on our streets. Izzy is breathless at the thought. She's delighted when she sees figures that previously only existed in her imagination living their lives on the streets of Newford. And then Rushkin shows her exactly how monstrous he can be.
If I'm trying to be objective on this re-read, Memory and Dream is probably 4 to 4.5 stars. But for sheer nostalgia, I'm bumping it up to 5.
This was not my first de Lint book but it was definitely an early one. I was working at my little local library as a high school senior, re-shelving books, when I discovered him. The covers (all three that the library owned anyway) caught my eye so I took one home. I'm pretty sure Spiritwalk was the first. I think this was the second. And I can still see why I've been in love with de Lint's work ever since. A 16-17 year relationship. We're on the record books at this point!
I would consider this to be the first real Newford novel despite the fact that it's technically number five. The initial book, Dreams Underfoot, is a solid start but as a short story collection, it just teased me with wanting more. The next three books are darker than most of de Lint's other work and I consider them outliers. But then comes Memory and Dream.
On this ordered re-read I've undertaken, I am thoroughly enjoying re-visiting my favorite characters when they're so much younger. We've aged together. Crazy to say? Probably. But it feels true. Jilly is only on the fringe of things, as is usual for her, but I love seeing her as a struggling artist/college student painting in Professor Dapple's studio. Geordie barely shows up but he's there, providing the soundtrack in the end. There are a couple of more but my heart really belongs to Jilly and Geordie. I don't recall coming across Cosette in any other books but she reminds me of The Crow Girls and I love her for the association. I love her for herself too though.
Reminiscing aside, this truly is solid, absorbing fantasy. de Lint was one of the first urban fantasy authors and I found him more than ten years before I'd ever heard of the genre. I loved the way that he wove such magical stories into the fabric of what appears to be a generic North American city. For a country girl with no real desire to head to the big city, finding magic on the streets was remarkable. The city is where gangs are and murders and rapes and muggings happen. Yet here are these tales that have so much mystery and wonder in them. Don't get me wrong; there's plenty of darkness too. But it's easy for me to look wide-eyed at the magic and forget the rest.
The appeal of Memory & Dream is the same as it always is for me--the strong cast of characters. Within pages of starting a de Lint book, I feel like I've met new friends or I'm visiting with old ones. Isabelle is not really one of my favorite characters for a couple of reasons, but I still really like her and would like to be in her circle. She spends a little too much time dithering and re-writing events to suit herself but I do completely understand where she's coming from. When she's just being herself, she's intelligent and caring and fun and talented. I want her friends to be my friends. I want to see her paintings and catch a glimpse of her numena out of the corner of my eye. I want to know Cosette and Rosalind and Annie Nin. I want to experience the trustworthy solidness of John Sweetgrass. I want to catch a glimpse of the shy little treeskin, Paddyjack, as he creates his primitive art and music. I want to see leonine Grace in all her rampant beauty. de Lint's descriptions of these fantastic characters fires my imagination. I'm left pondering which figures from paintings I would like to see step out from their canvases. Which characters from books I might call forth and the conversations and fun we might have. That is the magic de Lint calls forth for me with this book. If you want a piece of the magic too, pick this up and give it a try. You won't view art of any kind in the same way ever again.(less)
Twilight is a young adult novel about a 17-year-old girl, Bella, who moves from sunny Phoenix to rainy Forks, Washington to live with her father and g...moreTwilight is a young adult novel about a 17-year-old girl, Bella, who moves from sunny Phoenix to rainy Forks, Washington to live with her father and give her mother and new stepfather time to be alone together. She falls in love with mysterious, gorgeous, intelligent Edward Cullen. But there is more to Edward than meets the eye, and Bella gets caught up with Edward in a dangerous game.
This was definitely aimed at a young adult audience, and there were moments when I kind of cringed at some of the dialog, or at Bella's thoughts, but then I would think, "Yeah, I acted and talked like that when I was seventeen." The story itself was so well-written that when my husband brought me some popcorn while I was reading, I thanked him for bringing me lasagna, because that's what Bella and Edward were eating at that time in the book. Every time I opened this I got sucked into Bella and Edward's world. The story was only fairly original, but mostly I liked the characters and the writing. I'll definitely be looking for the next one at the library.
**spoiler alert** I liked this one a little better than the first, Kushiel's Dart. The story of Phedre, a masochist trained as a spy, continues as she...more**spoiler alert** I liked this one a little better than the first, Kushiel's Dart. The story of Phedre, a masochist trained as a spy, continues as she once again tries to save the throne of her country.
There were still a few S&M scenes, but I don't think there were as many and I don't think they were quite as detailed as they were in the first book. Still, if you're squeamish about these kinds of things, you should probably stay away from this whole series.
I liked this one better for a couple of reasons. I think the big thing for me was that I didn't have to wade through all the background story of her childhood and her training. The action started pretty quickly. And also, Phedre didn't rely quite so much on the men in her life to do things for her. But........
I really wish that this whole thing with Melisande was over already. She's a "good" villain, but she's not such a strong character that I'm looking forward to reading one more book about yet another attempt on the throne she's going to make. Why can't they send assassins into her sanctuary and just kill her? Then the third book could be focused on finding Melisande's son and getting Hyacinthe off the island.
I'll definitely read the third book in the trilogy, but I am tired of Melisande.(less)
**spoiler alert** This is the third book in the Kushiel's Legacy trilogy. Phedre no Delauney, s&m courtesan/spy extraordinaire, and her consort Jo...more**spoiler alert** This is the third book in the Kushiel's Legacy trilogy. Phedre no Delauney, s&m courtesan/spy extraordinaire, and her consort Joscelin have enjoyed ten years of peace. That peace is shattered when they set out to find the traitor Melisande's son and rescue Phedre's childhood friend, Hyacinthe, from eternal life (notice I wrote life and not youth.)
For me, this was the darkest and therefore hardest to read of the three books. As usual the s&m scenes weren't (to me) all that graphically detailed. Well, they could have been a lot worse anyway. Most of it was really left up to readers' imaginations. But what she did write and the direction it sent my imagination in was just too much for this country girl. Luckily, all that stops after the first half of the book. So if you can hang in there that long, I believe you're free and clear to just get on with the story.
The story itself was well-written and engaging. I really felt like this book could have been two novels. There are definitely two distinct halves. I think I would almost have rather had the real second book cut out completely and have the first half of the third book as the second novel in the trilogy.
If you liked the other books, this one won't let you down.
The whole first half in Darsanga was just way too dark for me. I didn't feel like we were really getting anywhere with the story for a while. I know that the plot really was moving along, but it just felt repetitive with Phedre trying to make friends with the others, Phedre trying to make friends with Imri, Phedre going to dinner with the Mahrkagar and avoiding Joscelin's eyes, and then Phedre going to have violent sex with the Mahrkagar as he slowly breaks her. I was just ready for the plot to move on past that part.
And, as much as I like Joscelin, and I'm really glad that he's still with Phedre, I kind of wish that Phedre and Hyacinthe had hooked up one more time, maybe when he visited her in Montreve. It's kind of hinted at that it might happen in the future, but, c'mon, this woman just practically went to hell and back for this guy. They have to get together one more time!
**spoiler alert** New Moon is the sequel to Twilight, and, I must say, the sequel is nowhere near as good as the first. This continues the story of Be...more**spoiler alert** New Moon is the sequel to Twilight, and, I must say, the sequel is nowhere near as good as the first. This continues the story of Bella and Edward, but this time it appears to be Bella and her Quileute friend, Jacob, who are facing danger together. I don't really want to say more than that for fear of giving anything away.
I still ripped through this almost-600-page book in about a day. But the plot was a mess. You start off in one plot and all of a sudden you're ripped out of that one into something that you really couldn't see coming. Maybe for some readers, unpredictablity is a good thing, but, for me, when an author has spent 400 pages involving me in one plot, she needs to finish that one instead of jerking me off into something totally unrelated.
Bella really got on my nerves in this book. She's supposed to be so intelligent, but she's about as dense as they come this time around. I got really tired of reading about the hole in her chest. A little bit of a spoiler here---------------------- The description of her teenage heartache is pretty dead-on, maybe a little over-dramatic, but still right. But I don't need to read about how she's been living her life like a zombie for the past six or seven months. Tell me that and then get on with the story.
I'll still read the last one, but I really hope it's better than this one. This one was just a disappointing, irritating mess.(less)
Renata DeChavannes is reeling from personal loss. She runs home to her grandmother in Alabama, seeking answers to questions about her mother.
I don't h...moreRenata DeChavannes is reeling from personal loss. She runs home to her grandmother in Alabama, seeking answers to questions about her mother.
I don't have a lot to say except that I can't help but feel like this has been done before. Younger generation, digging in the past, looking for parents' secrets. Sound familiar? I'm thinking of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and this book is nowhere near as good as that one.
I liked most of the present-day characters. Renata was pretty funny, but apparently pretty dense, but Honora, Gladys, and Isabella were tons of fun. Unfortunately, they weren't really the focus of the story. The focus is on Renata's mother Shelby and her broken relationship with Renata's father, Louie. Everyone talks about Shelby like the only reason she didn't walk on water was because she didn't want to, but once the past starts coming out, I couldn't stand her.
I really don't get what was up with Renata. She's about 30 years old, but you would think that she was five. She seems to know absolutely nothing about family history, even when she's directly involved. An explanation was given, but it was pretty weak. And everyone's supposed to be telling her these old family stories, but when they start talking, it's like Renata's not even there. Instead of, "You weren't a very pretty baby," it's "Renata wasn't a very pretty baby." What's up with that?
The chapters float around between several of the present-day characters. Some of them are titled, "Honora says..." and that made it pretty clear who was talking. But sometimes that was left off and I would think Renata was telling a story only to find out that it was her father. Confusing.
I'm making this sound bad, and it really wasn't. It was decent but forgettable. If it sounds like something you're interested in though, go ahead and dig in. It's not book to regret reading. It's just a book that I'll forget.(less)
Kendra and Seth have been shipped off to stay with their dad's parents, the grandparents they barely know. Grandma and Grandpa Sorenson rarely show up...moreKendra and Seth have been shipped off to stay with their dad's parents, the grandparents they barely know. Grandma and Grandpa Sorenson rarely show up for visits and they never invite the family for a visit. But when there's no one else to turn to, they reluctantly agree to let Kendra and Seth stay with them for about three weeks.
They find out that things are not quite what they seem at their grandparents' house. They've been forbidden to enter the woods. Insects gather in droves around a mirror left outside. Seth finds a crazy old witch living in a shack when he decides to explore the woods on his own. And Grandma Sorenson is nowhere to be found. Just what is going on at Fablehaven?
I loved this book. It seems like it's been a while since a book grabbed me so hard. I just wanted everything else to be put on hold so I could finish reading.
I love the whole concept of havens for fairy tale creatures. Of course their lives would be getting hard in our quickly-shrinking world. And of course there would be people who want to offer them all--good and bad--sanctuary. What a cool place to visit! What a fun idea to read about!
I liked Kendra and related to her a lot. I would not have been venturing into the forest after I was told not to. I would have been frustrated with my fearless younger brother. And speaking of younger brothers--Seth irritated the heck out of me. He was too much of a rule-breaker. At first, it was just sort of "Oh, my gosh, how irritating. Glad he's not my younger brother!" Then, after he should have learned his lesson in a very hard way and he's still breaking rules, I had just about had enough. Some characters are too stupid to live and Seth really crossed that line for me. There is a difference between fearlessness and stupidity. I guess you can see which camp I think Seth fell into! I understand that he furthered the kids' discoveries of the magic at Fablehaven, but it really needed to be toned down a little.
The plot did rocket along for me, but I can see that for some readers, it might wander a bit. It felt a bit more like individual stories about Fablehaven than one big, coherent plot. Still, it worked for me!
Highly, highly recommended for adventurous readers who are prepared to overlook Seth and his stupidity.(less)
The narrator of The Gargoyle (I'm pretty sure we never learn his name) begins his story with a horrific car crash that leaves him burned beyond recogn...moreThe narrator of The Gargoyle (I'm pretty sure we never learn his name) begins his story with a horrific car crash that leaves him burned beyond recognition. He hasn't lived the best life: he's selfish, addicted to drugs, and a porn star. His beautiful, sexy "friends" take one look at him after the accident and never come back. But one day a woman, Marianne Engel, shows up in his room. He's never met her before, but she knows things about him that he's never told anyone, and she claims that theirs is a love going back seven hundred years.
I'm not entirely sure what I just read. This was a group read this month for The Next Best Book Club. I'm dying to go over there and see what others have to say, but I try very hard to write my reviews before reading other reviews or discussions. I want my thoughts to be my own, and I'm afraid that sneaking a peek somewhere else will change my own honest feelings. For what it's worth, here they are.
I really, really, really liked this, but there was a lot going on and there's still a lot left for me to think about. Don't you hate it when you know your review is never going to convey everything that you're thinking and feeling? That's what's going on here.
Marianne is a character that I won't forget anytime soon. She's a gifted carver of gargoyles, a gifted linguist, a gifted storyteller, and a woman with infinite love to give away. She teaches the cynical narrator about the true meaning of love through a series of stories about her friends, and a long narrative about the first time they met and loved. He sees what she means when she lives what she teaches as she cares for this burn victim whom she's never met before and even the staff and other patients at the hospital that is caring for him. Her stories and her actions are beautiful.
You know how everyone seems to think that Jane Austen has the best declarations of love ever written? I believe Andrew Davidson topped her. Yes, it was that good.
There's quite a bit about God and the nature of forgiveness and penance in here too. That was secondary, for me at least, to all the ways that people can find to truly love each other.
I know we aren't supposed to judge books by their covers, but let's face it--we all do. And I just love this cover. It's even better in person than in the picture.
I really think that's the best I can do. Mostly, you just need to read this soon if you're interested in it at all. But if you're a reader who needs a beginning, middle and end with no deviation from the storyline, this probably won't be a book for you. The scenes describing the crash and his initial treatment are fairly graphic, so the squeamish might want to stay away also. But if you don't mind some sort-of-tangents, a meandering plot, and plenty of food for thought, I really think you should pick this up. I mean all of that in the best possible way.(less)
Fisherman and WWII veteran Carl Meine is found dead and tangled up in his fishing net one morning. At first glance it appears to be an accident, but t...moreFisherman and WWII veteran Carl Meine is found dead and tangled up in his fishing net one morning. At first glance it appears to be an accident, but the sheriff looks a little closer and starts to wonder. He soon arrests another fisherman, Kabuo Miyamoto, for murder. Against the backdrop of the murder trial, Guterson explores the roots of the conflict that led to the accusation and the lives of the witnesses in a series of flashbacks.
Gorgeous. That's really the best word to describe this book. It's just gorgeous. I normally tear through books pretty quickly, eager to know what happened, but this time I found myself reading slowly, savoring each elegant yet sparse turn of phrase. I still wanted to know what happened, but that was secondary to the beauty of the language.
Within this story, San Piedro Island becomes almost as much a character as anyone. The isolation, beauty and harshness of island life has shaped the islanders to become a breed apart. They are often silent, self-reliant, and careful in their interactions with each other. It's hard to avoid someone who becomes an enemy when you both live on an island.
Set in 1954, the islanders are still feeling the effects of WWII. A lot of the men are veterans and the Japanese residents were shipped off to an internment camp. Feelings between the communities can occasionally flare up, even nine years after the war's end.
The flashbacks to the war and the internment camp were mostly what interested me. I don't know why I love WWII novels, but I do. I was surprised to realize that I had one in my hands with Snow Falling on Cedars. One of the main characters, Ishmael, is a WWII vet who lost his left arm in the war. He finds himself unable to move on and lives in a sort of limbo. Kabuo and his wife, Hatsue, married before Kabuo left to fight for the US in Europe. He came back a changed man, and Hatsue finds herself wondering what their life together would have been like if the war hadn't intervened. The biggest draw of the book for me was the inclusion of the Japanese internment camps. I know vaguely that the US decided to round up our Japanese citizens into a few camps to keep an eye on them, but let's face it, shameful episodes in a country's history tend to be glossed over in history classes and I never learned much about it. I'll be looking for books that go into it in more detail after this. If you'd like to know a little more, check out this Wikipedia article on Manzanar, the camp that the characters in this book were sent to. It's hard to believe we did that in the US.
The whole courtroom thing was very secondary to everything else for me, right up until the end. I was so interested in the characters' histories that I wasn't too worried about what was happening in the novel's present day. Then a character reached a crossroads and I was anxiously waiting to see what would happen. That in turn led me to get concerned about the human capacity for prejudice and unfounded hatred and to really start worrying about Kabuo's fate. I finally did start rushing through the last 60 pages or so, hoping for the best and fearing the worst.
My one complaint would be about the handful of sexual scenes in the book. It's not that they're graphic or that I'm a prude. It's just that they seemed to come out of nowhere. They didn't feel necessary to the story and they just felt glaringly out of place.
If you like your books to travel from point A to point B with no deviation, this isn't going to be the book for you. As dreamy as its gorgeous cover, the novel meanders through a lot of history that doesn't have any immediate bearing on what appears to be the main story. But if you're okay with that, and especially if you're a fan of elegant prose, pick this up and treat yourself. I highly recommend it.(less)
Nonny Frett is caught between. She was born into the Crabtree family and secretly adopted into the Frett family, two groups that have been fighting si...moreNonny Frett is caught between. She was born into the Crabtree family and secretly adopted into the Frett family, two groups that have been fighting since time immemorial. She wants to divorce her husband but she's caught between lust and lassitude. She's frequently caught between what she wants to do and what she feels like she has to do. How appropriate is it that she lives in a town called Between, Georgia?
I enjoyed this. Parts had me laughing out loud, I was worried sick in other places, and I was ready to slap some characters around in still others. It felt like a real slice of someone else’s life. The whole Hatfield and McCoy thing was a little over the top, but it made for a good story, and gave Nonny a good backdrop against which to grow into herself.
Nonny is thirty years old, but she hasn’t really found herself yet. She’s constantly dissecting herself and her behavior, looking to see if she’s more Crabtree or Frett in the whole “nature vs nurture” dichotomy. She tends to float along in life, either choosing not to make decisions, or content to let others make them for her. In all honesty, I related a little too much to her, so I liked watching her become who she was always meant to be.
I loved Nonny’s mother. She was born deaf and has lost her sight by the time the book takes place. There's no word of complaint from her though. She's actually the rock of the family. She's an artist, she's wise, and she takes care of business. Her sister Bernese would argue, but Stacia is the one they rely on to keep them anchored.
Nonny’s family is practically all women. She has an aunt Bernese that is a holy terror. She’s supposed to be going through a “bad patch” in the book, but since that’s all I saw of her, I didn’t like her at all. Nonny’s birth grandmother, Ona, is possibly even worse. She’s mean, she’s drunk, she’s manipulative, and she’s lonely. It’s a bit of a lethal combination. But even these two manage to grow, and I found myself seeing through their eyes a little by the time everything was over.
This would be a good book club book. There are lots of things to discuss here, the various ways that females relate to each other and hurt and heal each other being chief among them. Life in a small town and that whole “nature vs. nurture” thing would invariably come up as well. Any red-blooded women are probably going to talk about the men in the book too. Oh my! I’m a sucker for a fictional man with long hair, especially if I get to “watch” him let it down, literally and figuratively. Is it a little steamy in here? ;-)
After all the good stuff I just said, I can only bring myself to give this three and a half stars. There’s no real reason except that I enjoyed it while it lasted, but I don't think I'll remember it very long. I do recommend it if you're looking for a family drama with touches of humor.(less)
Loosely based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, among other fairy tales, Wildwood Dancing is the story of five sisters who disappear into The Other Ki...moreLoosely based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, among other fairy tales, Wildwood Dancing is the story of five sisters who disappear into The Other Kingdom for a fairy revel every full moon night. But when their father leaves them alone to spend the winter in another city, their cousin, Cezar, realizes something is going on and starts making their lives difficult.
So maybe there's nothing deep or thought-provoking here. This was still a hugely fun book. It's pretty obvious that this is a re-telling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but there are some other fairy tales thrown in. I enjoyed seeing how all of them fit together to make this tale.
Jena is the second-oldest sister and the narrator of the book. I loved her. I have noticed in Marillier's other books that her female characters rock, and this one isn't any different. She's intelligent, capable, caring, but also maybe a little blind and naive about some things. Her sisters are a little bit of a disappointment. They don't really have huge roles to play, so they fall more into stereotypes. The pretty one. The smart one. The flirt. The baby. But for me, that just fell right into the spirit of a fairy tale. If you really think about it, aren't they generally peopled with stereotypes that prevent a lot of needless explanation?
Cezar was bad enough for me to really despise him, but he didn't cross this weird line I have where I hate the bad guy too much. He was an insufferable, chauvinist prick who infuriated me, but at the same time I loved it. Go figure.
Once I realized that there were so many stories being woven together to make this one, I started to worry a little that there was no good way to wrap it up. But it all comes together in the end. I do have one or two lingering questions that I would like to have answered, but that's just me. Everything really does wrap up nicely in the end.
If you love fairy tale re-tellings, go pick this one up. You won't be disappointed.(less)
Charles de Lint is my favorite author. Period. So I grabbed this without even looking at the bookflap and just plunged in. Do yourself a favor and do...moreCharles de Lint is my favorite author. Period. So I grabbed this without even looking at the bookflap and just plunged in. Do yourself a favor and do the same thing. Without knowing anything about the book, the prologue is one of the best hooks I've read in a long time. But you can't know anything about the story beforehand. But, man, what a hook!
One of the things I love about de Lint is how his characters always have faith in something bigger than themselves, but that faith doesn't necessarily take the form of organized religion. He incorporates the best elements from many different religions and mythologies to build a story that most people can relate to. This book has a great love story, but the point is really to explore faith, grace, and having the courage to let go.
The biggest thing that I love about de Lint is his characters. Within a few pages, his characters feel like old friends. Grace is no exception. Tough, tattoo-covered, hot-rod building Grace is easy to pigeonhole. But there are many surprising sides to her personality, and she quickly became a character I won't forget. But what makes his characters stand out to me are the way they interact with each other and the world. They usually have some of their own serious issues, but they also generally seem to believe that, while they might not be able to single-handedly change the world, they can change their parts of it. They live to try to ease the way for others they encounter. They understand that life is hard enough without people beating each other down. We should build each other up. De Lint got all of that into this book too.
Most of my favorite books by this author are set in the fictional city of Newford, with some recurring characters throughout. I was initially a little disappointed that this wasn't a Newford book, and that I wouldn't get to check in on Jilly and Geordie and friends, but I quickly got over that. This still wasn't my very favorite book of his, but this was definitely one of my favorites.
In all honestly, the story was probably 4 stars. But the ideas behind the book are 5 stars. I love this guy, I loved this book, and I can't recommend either highly enough.(less)
Emily Benedict didn't even know that she had any other family until her mother died. At the moment she feels cut adrift from the world, she discovers...moreEmily Benedict didn't even know that she had any other family until her mother died. At the moment she feels cut adrift from the world, she discovers roots in North Carolina. Her grandfather turns out to literally be a giant, people in the small town of Mullaby seem to hold her responsible for something her activist mother did in the past, and there are strange lights floating around in the woods behind her house.
This was really more like 3.5 stars but I'll round up.
I really liked the whole story, I just felt that I wanted a little more meat to it. That's really my only criticism.
I liked the way that Emily learned the value of family. Julia learns that for most people, home will always be home, no matter how hard you try to leave it behind. I loved the way that the Coffeys learn that there aren't really any secrets in small towns, but that people rarely think your secret is as important as you do. I love that Emily's grandfather, Vance, learns that life can and should go on, even after you lose someone you love. See? There are all these great life lessons packed in here, and the book is very light and sunny. Maybe I would have appreciated it even more if I had read it at a different time. I'll probably read it again sometime; it's definitely good enough for a re-read.
My favorite of Sarah Addison Allen's magics is the appearing books in The Sugar Queen, but I also love the magic in this book. One character has a "sweet sense" that leads him to sugary goodness and another magic that is a secret but beyond beautiful.
Speaking of sugary goodness, don't read this if you're dieting! Julia's cakes all sound heavenly, and I don't even like barbecue, but those descriptions left me hungry!
I would still recommend this for fans of Sarah Addison Allen. I think this would make a good cross-over introduction to her work for young adult readers. For adult readers picking up her work for the first time, I would recommend either Garden Spells or The Sugar Queen as a better introduction.(less)
Aslaug has lived an isolated life with her mother in the woods of Maine. A disturbing story is revealed in alternating chapters. One set of chapters r...moreAslaug has lived an isolated life with her mother in the woods of Maine. A disturbing story is revealed in alternating chapters. One set of chapters reveals the course of Aslaug's life in the summer of 2003. The other reveals Aslaug on trial in 2007, for a crime that isn't even revealed until very late in the book.
These are some crazy *itches. I'm sorry, but that's the logical place to start this.
Aslaug appears to be an innocent victim, living in a house with her mother where they don't have electricity and all the windows are boarded over. Is it to keep the world out or Aslaug in?
When she finally starts to meet other people, she's woefully unprepared for what she finds. She doesn't understand a lot of modern technology, she's brilliant with languages but doesn't understand everyday slang, and she doesn't realize the evil that people can hold in their hearts. Well, evil probably isn't the right word. I'll try again. The evil that fanaticism can lead people to. Save us all from fanatics of any flavor. Is there anything scarier than someone who is doing crazy, hurtful things because they believe that God, Allah, the Easter Bunny, or anyone else has told them it's their sacred duty to do so?
I can't say that I enjoyed this--I was too upset throughout most of it for that. But I'm still mulling over some of the religious history that I read here. This is a book to get under your skin and unsettle you for a while. If you're in the mood for that, go for it.(less)
Paula is accompanying her father to Constantinople on a trading trip. She might “only” be a seventeen-year-old girl, but she’s an intelligent, able as...morePaula is accompanying her father to Constantinople on a trading trip. She might “only” be a seventeen-year-old girl, but she’s an intelligent, able assistant. They’re in search of an ancient religious artifact, Cybele’s Gift. Once in Constantinople, Paula starts seeing strange visions, visions that she feels sure are coming from the Other Kingdom, the fairy tale world next to ours. She learns that it’s her turn to go on a quest. Can she accomplish the task set for her?
I am so torn in rating this book. The beginning felt like it was at least a hundred pages too long. I don’t know exactly what could have been cut, I’m just left with the feeling that a lot of it was unnecessary. It was all character development and setup for the quest, but it got a little boring and I was feeling disappointed that this wasn’t as good as Wildwood Dancing. It was interesting to read the descriptions of Constantinople, but there should be a limit to setup. I read 200 pages before I really got into it, but once the story got going, it was a fantastic fairy tale with impossible challenges, riddles, dangerous pursuit, and all the stuff that make us love the old stories. I finished the rest in one sitting, on the edge of my seat, waiting to find out what happened next. Three stars for the first half, five stars for the second half, and we’ll average it out at four.
Paula is a woman ahead of her time. She loves to read and dreams of opening her own book trading business. She sometimes gets a little too lost in her own head though, and needs to be reminded that there is a whole real life to be lived outside of books. She also has a temper that gets her in trouble a few times. It took me a little while to warm up to her, but in the end I liked her almost as much as her sister Jena.
Duarte the pirate is a dashing, charismatic figure, and I was never quite sure what to make of him. There are hidden layers to the man, and it was fun to watch Paula sounding him out. I kept picturing him as Iñigo Montoya.
And then there’s Stoyan. Oh, Stoyan, my love. He almost made me cry. The page got all blurry on me and everything. Do you know how it is killing me to admit that? I absolutely hate to cry, but he got to me. Captain Wentworth’s letter is the last word in romance from an eloquent lover, but Stoyan takes the cake for the blue collar guys. He’s tall and handsome of course, but he’s a wise, old, gentle soul. He can handle himself in a fight, but he ultimately knows what’s important in life and inadvertently reminds Paula of that frequently. He’s loyal, quiet, and willing to do anything for her. As Duarte says to him, "It is blindingly clear to me that you would jump through fire for her." If you’ve ever read I Capture the Castle, Stoyan just might remind you of Stephen.
This is a “companion novel” to Wildwood Dancing. I don’t think it’s necessary to read them in any kind of order, but a small part of the plot from Wildwood will be spoiled if you read Cybele first.
I highly recommend this for fans of fairy tales, but you’ll have to have patience with the beginning. And be prepared to fall in love with Stoyan.(less)